Sneak Peek Friday

JourneytoAviadEvery Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books.  Read it on my blog to get a longer version!  This week’s excerpt is from Journey to Aviad, which is now permafree as an ebook. So if you haven’t read it yet, what’s holding you back?

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Elowyn was wakened in the night by a hard and frantic pounding at the shoemaker’s door. She could hear commands being shouted, along with yells, and screams, and the frightened cries of very small children. She cautiously unlatched the door, unable to push back the memory of the apparition that had once made itself known to her in the same way. The man standing in the doorway was no apparition. He was one of the watchmen, and the tone of his voice left no room for questioning.

“Awake yer household and get to the docks. The gate’s about to breech! Don’ stand there starin.’ Fly, now!”

In a panic, Elowyn woke Morganne and the shoemaker, telling them what the guard had said. The old man began cursing, but moved faster than Elowyn thought he would be capable of at his age. Morganne grabbed Adelin while Elowyn snatched their packs and flew out the door. There were dozens of men surrounding the gate, trying to brace it with wooden beams. A large crash echoed down the street as something heavy rammed into it from the other side. It shuddered and groaned as a dying beast about to breathe its last.

“Away from the gate!” someone called out. “It won’t stand another blow. Into position and weapons ready!” He had barely finished speaking when the next blow came. A wooden ram came crashing through, and the gate was breeched. The rest of the wall began to give way as well, and through the opening Elowyn got her first sight of a troll. Towering above everything, the troll was massive and hideously ugly, with a grey, sickly complexion. It had huge yellow teeth and merciless eyes. The first one through the breech called out triumphantly in a guttural tone that froze Elowyn’s blood. It snatched up one of the watchmen with its huge hands. As Elowyn looked on in sickening horror, it ripped him in two with its teeth and devoured him—armor, bones and all. It turned its head, grinning at the rest of the men who were scattering at its feet. Blood still dripped from the corners of its mouth

Elowyn’s knees suddenly unlocked themselves, and she ran with all that was in her. Morganne, Adelin, and the shoemaker were close behind. Elowyn realized that she had never truly known what fear was until that very moment in her life. It was a moment that forever changed her.

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

Sneak Peek Friday

Every Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books. Read it on my blog to get a longer version!  This week’s excerpt is from my upcoming novella, Into the Shadow Wood, which is expected to be released this spring.


The darkness around me was so thick, it seemed to cling to my skin like stench-filled scum from a stagnant pond.  It was soaked into my hair, my clothes.  I was breathing it, allowing it to work its way in and through my body.  I had eaten from its sickly bounty to supplement our meager provisions.  It pressed my mind near to madness, stoking the fires of my inner violence, my anger and hatred toward Braeden and those who had wronged me—far beyond the desire for mere justice.  Would any bath be able to wash me clean again?  Would any purity of air be enough to draw the darkness from my body, without leaving a residue of its horrors behind to torment me for the rest of my days?  If one day I chose to accept my commander’s prayers on my behalf, and actually believe that there was a force of good stronger than all of this misery around me, would it even accept me?

There were still many hours of daylight left when I realized the wood had become darker than it ought to be.  It was almost as if we had hit a thick cloud, or a black fog, rising up from the ground, penetrating everything. Alaric paused, not wanting to press deeper into it, but my commander became excited.  His eyes were wide, and fixed into the darkness ahead.  A smile crossed his lips.  I could not tell if there was anything lucid behind it, or if he had finally crossed over the threshold.  He slowly drew his sword.  The rasp of it pulling away from the sheath seemed alarmingly loud.  Anyone who could hear that sound would recognize it.  I lifted my bow and readied an arrow against it in response to the tension pulling his muscles tight.  I feared that in his crazed state, he might suddenly turn on me and force me to defend myself against him.  Alaric no doubt had the same thought.  He watched our commander nervously and withdrew his weapon also. But in all the battles we had fought together, however hopeless they were, I had never seen his hand shake upon the hilt as it was shaking now. Something was about to happen.

Through the haze, I saw a red-yellow glow.  A torch?  A distant fire?  I squinted, trying to distinguish form from shadow, but everything was muddled and in motion.  Two red lights appeared, like burning coals; then two more, then four more.  I heard a low, threatening growl that set my heart racing.  A smoky howl lifted up, hanging suspended on the air as though it was a living thing of its own.  My blood chilled and a heavy sense of dread came over me.  Hounds.  My greatest fear upon entering this wood was that we would encounter them and their master.  This was their domain, and as far as I knew, no man who had stood against them in battle had lived to tell about it.  They were circling us, surrounding us, just as they had surrounded Nevon.  And it was too late to run.


Meet Einar for the first time in Journey to Aviad, now FREE as an ebook.

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

Book 1JOURNEY TO AVIAD

The Wind Rider Chronicles Book 1

Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. READ MORE

Amazon     BN     Smashwords     Createspace

Sneak Peek Friday

JTA BC 150Every Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books.  Read it on my blog to get a longer version!  This week’s excerpt is from Ancient Voices: Into the Depths, which was just released in November.

Amazon     BN     Smashwords     Createspace


Elowyn was startled out of sleep by a rapping on the door. She opened her eyes and looked up to see herbs and dried fish hanging from the rafters above her. She was lying on a mat next to an open hearth, and there was a large loom against the far wall. Her mother’s loom. She sat up and looked around. She was back in Tyroc. Morganne and Adelin were not there, and the knocking at the door was becoming more forceful by the minute.

Her heart jumped as a huge clap of thunder suddenly shook the cottage, and a torrent of rain began to dash against the walls and roof. She stared at the door, terrified. Had the apparition of Nevon returned to torment her? Or was something more sinister lurking on the other side of the door? Another crack of thunder erupted from the sky, then rumbled low and long like a throaty growl. As the thunder trailed off, Elowyn thought she could hear something sniffing and scratching at the crack under the door. The banging continued more urgently, now made by something much harder than a human hand. The intruder was no longer knocking, but trying to break the door down.

The coin! Elowyn snatched her pouch from its hook on the wall and held it tightly to her chest. She had to make sure the coin nestled within it was safe. She flung aside the heavy curtain that led to her mother’s sleeping area, prepared to face her wrath. But her mother wasn’t there. The cottage had vanished, and Elowyn found herself standing in a cold, damp place, blinded by sheer darkness. She reached her hands out and a rough stone wall greeted her fingertips. After a few moments of fumbling with her tinder box and a stump of candle, she managed to light a small flame. She was in the underground shelter that Einar had once shown her. The heavy door on the other side of the room was barred shut from the inside.

Another deep boom of thunder and the pelting sound of heavy rain filled her ears. Something was very wrong. So far below ground, surrounded by thick, impenetrable walls, she should not have been able to hear either. Besides, this place was no longer safe now that Braeden knew about it. Elowyn began to panic. There was nothing to sustain her here—no food, water, blankets or source of heat. What frightened her more was the thought of what might be lying in wait on the outside. Were the Hounds camped just above her, waiting for her to emerge?

“Einar!” She called out in desperation, clenching the coin tightly in her fist. “Where are you?” Elowyn’s strained plea echoed off the bare walls, met only by an empty, frightening silence. Einar was not going to come…not this time. She was utterly alone, and no one who could help her knew where she was.

Suddenly there was a slow, ominous tapping at the door. Elowyn refused to answer, silently pressing herself into the farthest corner of the shelter. The tapping turned to persistent knocking, then banging, then pounding, so hard that even the massive door of the shelter shuddered with the force of it. Elowyn covered her ears to no avail as the pounding grew louder and louder. Boom!

Elowyn finally woke with her heart racing. Her throat was dry, but the rest of her was drenched in a nervous sweat. A storm was raging outside; a real, mountain-made spring storm, not one conjured by Braeden. One of the shutters had come loose and was banging hard against the wall. She got up and managed to secure it even though her hands were shaking. Morganne and Adelin were enjoying a deep, peaceful sleep, completely unaware of the turmoil going on around them.

MEET ANCIENT VOICES: INTO THE DEPTHS’ CHARACTERS

Sneak Peek Friday

JourneytoAviadEvery Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books.  Read it on my blog to get a longer version!  This week’s excerpt is from Journey to Aviad, which is now permafree as an ebook. So if you haven’t read it yet, what’s holding you back?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Smashwords


Elowyn tried very hard to avoid looking directly at Braeden. The darkened eyes, the pale, sallow, strange fitting skin, the crooked nose and twisted smile … everything about him repulsed her. Enduring his presence was like reliving a nightmare that even the strength of the midday sun could not chase away. With every bite Elowyn took, she was trying to choke down with it the terror rising steadily to the top of her throat. She remembered all too clearly the black aura that had enveloped Braeden at Elias’ execution, even if she had been the only one to notice it. In but one fleeting moment, the directness of his gaze had seemed to penetrate all her defenses and left her feeling violated. If he’d had this effect on her from afar, how much more would he affect her now that he was just across the table? What would Braeden find should his probing eyes look directly into hers, and more importantly, what would he take?  Would the darkness he exuded surround her too?  She shuddered as she imagined it eating away, not at her flesh, but at the very essence of her being, until she was nothing more than an empty vessel, waiting to be filled by whatever horrors he saw fit to destroy her with.

Perhaps that was what had become of Darik, staring down at the food on his trencher as if he didn’t really see it, the line of his jaw hardened and tense, his expression cold and empty. Though the Lady Isana seemed to want him as her future husband, Elowyn felt sorry for her. She could not imagine that life with such a man would ever be happy. Elowyn shifted her gaze to Avery. Now that she knew his woeful tale, her heart broke for him. She studied his face as he sat quietly by his brother’s side. Avery was empty too, but in an innocent way. Though he of everyone at the table had the most to be bitter about, there was no trace of ill feeling about him. In a way, he was like an infant, or like the animals—aware of each moment as he lived it, without the ability to dwell on the past, or plan for the future, or engage in any kind of serious thought. He did little more than exist. Perhaps that was the key to getting through the meal. To turn off her thoughts and simply live in the moment as though there was no past, and no future, and nothing to be afraid of.

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

Sneak Peek Friday

Every Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books. Read it on my blog to get a longer version!  This week’s excerpt is from my upcoming novella, Into the Shadow Wood, which is expected to be released this spring.


From my belt I untied a small, worn cloth bag with the name Elowyn stitched across the front.  It still gave off a light fragrance of herbs and flowers, though that scent was finally beginning to fade.  The memory of the young girl who had given it to me did not.  She had unwittingly been caught up in this quest just as I had.  It was she who had discovered Nevon’s lost helm, bow, and arrows, and had read the signs of his final struggle written across the forest floor.  Without her, we never would have known what had become of him.  Her near death encounter with one of the Hounds had driven her into my path, and though I saved her that day, there were other things I could not protect her from.  What she found, and her dealings with me no doubt left some unintended wounds on her tender soul.  If it were possible, I would have wiped them all away and preserved her child-like innocence for a while longer.  She had thrust the bag into my hand on the day we parted ways; a gesture of affection and forgiveness.  It was the day we prepared to enter this evil wood.

What she had given me was a protection pouch, filled with dried plants and herbs that were supposed to ward off evil spirits. Many people wore them without thought, and such bags were quite common, though I had never really believed they held any power. But there was something special about this bag. Not that I had any delusions about its effectiveness against malevolent spirits—no bag of herbs would be any match for the depth of evil that resided here. It brought me comfort just the same. The floral aroma helped my mind escape to a better place; to gardens I had once known in less trying times, before the Sovereign had died and Braeden had taken his place…to meadows full of colorful wildflowers, waving greeting to me on a warm breeze. It helped me to remember the blue sky, and the sounds of the ocean, the spray on my face and the sun’s warmth on my skin. It helped me remember a world worth loving. A world worth saving.

It had become all too easy to believe that the Shadow Wood’s persistent darkness was the only thing that remained, that everything else had been swallowed into the empty void of its insatiable belly. But that common, simple little pouch was the most powerful reminder to me that it was not true. My commander had his prayers to ground his sanity. This was my connection to reality. Something real that I could feel, and smell, and grasp in my hand. And with it always came to my mind the image of a girl’s rapt little face, peering up at me with wells of blue that so readily spilled out the depths of her soul—joy, hope, forgiveness, and pain. Everything. If I could just hang onto that, there might be something left of my own soul to save if we ever escaped the Shadow Wood alive.


 

Meet Einar for the first time in Journey to Aviad, now FREE as an ebook.

MEET JOURNEY TO AVIAD’S CHARACTERS

Book 1JOURNEY TO AVIAD

The Wind Rider Chronicles Book 1

Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. READ MORE

Amazon     BN     Smashwords     Createspace

 

Medieval Monday: What is a Lavender?

washing clothLavender—it’s not just a fragrant plant. In the Middle Ages, a lavender was a craftswoman who washed or fulled fabric.

Fulling was a way to clean and thicken newly woven fabric that shaped it and made it shrink-resistant. Sometimes fuller’s earth was used, but stale urine could also be collected and used for this purpose.


 

Fulling was a chore that Morganne and Elowyn from Journey to Aviad had to do at home:

Fulling was the most dreaded chore Elowyn was required to help with, and she never managed to get out of it. Her mother would lay a length of newly woven wool cloth in the big wooden trough behind the cottage, then pour over it warm water and stale urine that had been saved up from the chamber pots. She and Morganne would have to hike up their dresses and walk across it for hours, until the weave was tightened, and the cloth slightly shrunk. After that it would have to be stretched out on a wooden tenter, and its surface brushed with teasles from the garden.

Once dry, Morganne would use long flat shears to smooth off the nap—once for common cloth, and several times for fine cloth. If it was to be sold to a merchant, the cloth was then brushed, pressed, folded, and stored away until their mother was ready to cart it into the city. Cloth that was to be used for Morganne’s sewing was set aside for washing with soapwort, or sometimes for dyeing. Typically their mother wove linen over the winter months, preparing for summer demands for cooler cloth, and because linen did not need to be fulled. But whatever wool cloth she did make was saved up until the first warm weather, and then the dreaded trough would make its appearance. Elowyn’s legs and feet ached just thinking about it.

Sneak Peek Friday

JTA BC 150Every Friday on my author Facebook page I will be featuring a sneak peek from one of my books.  This week’s excerpt is from Ancient Voices: Into the Depths, which was just released in November.

Amazon     BN     Smashwords     Createspace


As the day began to wane, the Kinship finally returned from the mining road. But their return was slow and full of sorrow rather than triumph. Three of the men were walking, with large bundles draped over the backs of their horses. Elowyn could not tell what they were at first, as the men had used their cloaks to cover the bundles. Cailean and his father instantly knew. They abandoned their cart, racing over to meet the men. Elowyn remained frozen in place while they talked. Her mind and heart were racing too much for her to focus on what they were saying, but she could feel the dread welling up inside of her. Something had gone terribly wrong. As the horses came closer and continued on past her, toward the monastic community, she came to the full realization of what she was seeing. The bundles were bodies.

A pale, listless hand hung below the hem of a cloak, which was not quite large enough to conceal its grisly secret. A few curled wisps of hair peeked out, ruffled gently by the wind, but otherwise motionless. Two more bundles passed by. She averted her eyes, unable to look. The horror of that lifeless hand had already burned itself into her mind, and she doubted that she would ever be able to rid herself of the memory. She lowered herself onto the ground—her legs seemed unable to hold her weight any longer. Who was under those cloaks? She had come to know so many of the miners who frequented the tavern. Her immediate concern was for Bane. She prayed with all her heart that the cold, limp hand had not belonged to him.

Elowyn thought for a moment that she heard Cailean calling her name, but the voices around her seemed nothing more than distant echoes in the midst of her shock. The warmth of his hand grasping hers brought her back to the present.

MEET ANCIENT VOICES: INTO THE DEPTHS’ CHARACTERS